Rob Burgess

Editor’s note: Spoilers ahead. But if you still haven’t seen the “Back to the Future” trilogy, what, exactly, is wrong with you?

I have been waiting for this moment since I was 6 years old.

Oct. 21, 2015, is the date in the 1989 film “Back to the Future Part II” in which Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels forward in time from Oct. 26, 1985. I started rewatching the movie just before midnight Oct. 21 and finished Oct. 22, two dates featured.

In the 1985 original, guitar-slinging Hill Valley, California, teenager McFly (who was briefly going to be played by Eric Stoltz) travels back in time to Nov. 5, 1955. Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) types this date into the DeLorean DMC-12 time machine as it’s the day he invented time travel.

Marty accidentally interferes with his future parents’ meeting and has to make it right before he returns to 1985.

Marty simultaneously avoids the advances of his mother Lorraine (Lea Thompson); gives his father George (Crispin Glover) the courage to stand up to bully Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson); invents rock ‘n’ roll when Chuck Berry’s cousin, Marvin, puts the phone up to his guitar playing; and, with the help of “Doc” Brown, makes it back to a much-improved 1985.

The end of the first film sets up the sequel. “Doc” appears from the future. He tells Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer (Claudia Wells) their future children are in trouble. Photos, letters and newspapers (including the ever-present Hill Valley Telegraph) play an important role in this series, as they change to show the consequences of the character’s action on the future and past.

That’s why it was so exciting that USA Today’s Thursday edition had a four-page wrap that was a mock-up of the Oct. 22, 2015, USA Today from the movie. (It even has a full-page “Jaws 19” advertisement.)

It is from the day after Marty arrives in 2015, because “Doc” has traveled even further into time to bring it back. This version shows Marty’s son being jailed. A limited edition version showing the change to Biff’s grandson being arrested instead is going for hundreds of dollars on eBay.

After Marty keeps his future child out of trouble in 2015, he purchases a sports almanac he plans to take back to 1985 to place bets. Biff steals the almanac and the time machine and gives it to himself in 1955. Biff returns to 2015, and Marty, “Doc” and Jennifer travel back to a very different 1985.

Using the almanac, Biff is now wealthy and powerful. George is dead, and Biff is now married to Lorraine. Marty must now travel back to 1955 to make sure Biff never gives the almanac to himself.

In hindsight, writer Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis got a lot right about 2015, like drones, flat screens and virtual reality. They got some other things wrong, including a Chicago Cubs World Series victory, flying cars and widespread fax machines. And they completely missed the Internet and smartphones.

One thing I didn’t realize they got right was the rise of Donald Trump. Gale recently admitted alternate 1985 Biff is based on Trump.

“We thought about it when we made the movie! Are you kidding?” Gale told The Daily Beast’s Ben Collins Oct. 21.

Both have giant casinos. Both claim to be deeply religious when it suits them.

“I just want to say one thing: God bless America,” Biff says at the opening of Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise and the Biff Tannen Museum in alternate 1979 after gambling is legalized and President Richard Nixon repeals the 22nd Amendment’s term limits.

Trump says his favorite book is the Bible, yet can’t name a single verse. Both have comically terrible hair. Both gained their wealth through familial fortune, not business prowess.

“I started off in Brooklyn,” Trump said Monday at a New Hampshire town hall. “My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.”

By looking at the chaotic, dystopian 1985 of the film, we have a clear view of our future if I ever seriously have to type the words President Trump.

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at or on Twitter at

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